Just two percent of the US population is directly involved in agriculture. According to the last US Census there are just over 327 million people currently living in the US. That means that agriculture accounts for 6.54 million people. While the number looks large the reality brings it to a much smaller size.
Word of the flood and blizzard damage in Nebraska following the bomb cyclone spread quickly from local and social media sources. Farmers and ranchers from across the country knew they needed to help their fellow ag producers. They did so by loading their trailers with hay, feed, bedding, fencing supplies, and other necessities. It wasn’t just people neighboring states either. Convoys from the West coast to the East coast and every where in between loaded up and headed out.
In Central Nebraska near Pleasanton the Reissland family farm made it through the worst of the storm with minimal damage, but neighbors and others around were not so lucky. Richard Panowicz lost 250 bales of hay to several feet of water. Panowicz explained, “We are rolling it out and letting the cattle pick through it and use it as bedding. All we can do because it’s ruined. Heidi Reissland feels for Panowicz and other neighbors who lost cattle saying, “It makes you pretty grateful for what you do have.” The Reissland’s have an open hay yard and clean shop to store supplies. When Heidi thought about this she reached out to long time friend Nate Like in North West Ohio. Like had inquired earlier if the Reissland’s or their neighbors needed anything.
Like who is President of his county Farm Bureau called a meeting area farmers and ranchers to ask for donations. “It started with one load of hay and then it grew to five, then 10 and within days it was up to 25 pickups and trailers.” Like was amazed at how generous people were.
Benson Mcclarren helped to round up donations for the convoy and agree’s with Like that the generosity was unbelievable. Mcclarren even remarked, “On the way here we stopped at a Casey’s General Store for fuel. Someone inside learned of what we were doing and bought us a $500 gift card to help get everyone fueled up.” Mcclarren also pointed out that all ages stepped up to help with the North West Ohio relief convoy. “There’s a lot of young people who took time off of work and school to make the trip with us. They didn’t have to, but they felt it was the right thing to do.”
When the convoy completed the last few dirt miles to the Reissland’s farm Nebraskans were waiting with hot meals and ready tractors. There was hand shaking, hugging and plenty of thanking. These travelers came 800 miles one way just to make sure their fellow ag producer had the necessities to try recover from the storm. With a cookie and a drink for the road many loaded back up and headed back for Ohio. “Not everyone has the fifth generation at home to do the chores like I do.” Mcclarren explains.
This story is just one of the many, as convoys continue to bring supplies to those in need in Nebraska. It just goes to show that there may be over six million ag producers in the US, but when one is in need they all pitch in like family.